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Hutton to start as Sabres open homestand vs. Canadiens

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Following their victory at home against New Jersey on Saturday, members of the Sabres congregated in the dressing room and spoke about inspiring a similar atmosphere in KeyBank Center on a nightly basis. 

"I think that's something as a team and as a city we can pride ourselves on, is making this place hard to play against and a hard rink to come into," goalie Carter Hutton said. 

The Sabres will look to keep that feeling going tonight against the Montreal Canadiens. Pregame coverage on MSG begins at 6:30 p.m. with puck drop set for 7.  

Buffalo is looking to rebound from an overtime loss in Columbus on Monday, a game in which the team admittedly did not have its best but still managed to erase two deficits and salvage a point on the road.  

Sabres Ralph Krueger reflected positively on that game Tuesday, treating it as a valuable experience for a team that's in the process of establishing an identity. Though Hutton did not play in that game - Linus Ullmark made his first start of the season and stopped 40 shots - he said he saw a similarly positive response in the dressing room.

"It's one of those things," Hutton said. "I don't think we played our best game. I think everybody's aware of that. We tried to learn from it. But then on the other side of it, we got a point. 

"There's other good teams. Everybody's good in this league, right? Everybody can beat anybody on any given night so it's one of those things where we know we didn't have our best and we found a way to get a point. That's where we kind of tip our cap, move on, learn from it and get back to work."

The matchup begins a three-game homestand for the Sabres, who host another Atlantic Division rival in the Florida Panthers on Friday and then welcome the Dallas Stars for a 3 p.m. contest next Monday.

The Sabres beat the Devils 7-2 in their home opener, a night that began with a ceremony that saw 15 former captains join Jack Eichel at center ice. The atmosphere only grew from there, the product of a couple big hits and a high-octane offensive attack. 

"I think that's something as a team we want to pride ourselves on," Hutton said. "When teams come in here it's our team and it's our fans and it's our city that makes this a tough place to come play and we're going to make you earn everything you get here."


Scouting the Canadiens

Video: PREGAME: Krueger

Montreal is 1-0-1 coming off a shootout win in Toronto on Saturday. The Canadiens scored four times in the third period to take a one-goal lead in that game but went to overtime due to Auston Matthews' tying goal with 1:15 remaining. 

Keith Kinkaid will make his Canadiens debut in net with Carey Price expected to start the team's home opener against Detroit on Thursday. In front of Kinkaid, Krueger sees a fast lineup that strives to play a style similar to that of the Sabres. 

"I think Montreal and Buffalo are two very similar structures and systems of play crashing into each other tonight," Krueger said. "… Both teams want to play with speed. Both teams want to play on their toes. I think as much as you know the way the Canadiens want to play, we're not far off in our dream visions of how we'd like our teams structured."


Projected lineup

The Sabres announced that forward Conor Sheary will be week-to-week upon further evaluation of his upper-body injury. Evan Rodrigues will take his place in the lineup and make his season debut.

Though Rodrigues was a scratch for the first three games of the season, Krueger has maintained that the decision was a product of the coaching staff's preferred mix of skill sets rather than an indictment of the forward's performance in camp.

"It was the way we put the puzzle together and now the puzzle gets a bit of a remix," Krueger said. "He'll have an opportunity today to play on the power play. He'll be an important player for us right out of the hop, so it's again putting a mix together of physicality and skill. The type of lines that we want to see. 

"He fell short, but we have a long season ahead and there's always going to be somebody in that position. It happened to be him, but he's ready to go tonight."

Here's how the Sabres lined up at practice on Tuesday:

68 Victor Olofsson - 9 Jack Eichel - 23 Sam Reinhart
28 Zemgus Girgensons - 22 Johan Larsson - 21 Kyle Okposo
13 Jimmy Vesey - 37 Casey Mittelstadt - 71 Evan Rodrigues
53 Jeff Skinner - 90 Marcus Johansson - 17 Vladimir Sobotka

19 Jake McCabe - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
26 Rasmus Dahlin - 33 Colin Miller
6 Marco Scandella - 10 Henri Jokiharju 

40 Carter Hutton 
35 Linus Ullmark 

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